June 6, 2023

The LanzaJet Freedom Pines Fuels SAF commercial-scale plant is an innovative and exciting development in the world of sustainable aviation fuel. The project began when LanzaJet’s investor, LanzaTech, approached Zeton in 2018, seeking to conduct studies for different scales of the project. After conducting feasibility studies on various scales, the project eventually progressed to the construction of a 10 million gallon per year plant located at LanzaJet’s Freedom Pines Fuels site in Soperton, Georgia.

One of the main challenges of the project was finding the right balance between commercial and research objectives. The 10 million gallon per year scale was ultimately selected because it met both needs; it allowed the technology to be scaled from pilot scale, while also producing sufficient sustainable aviation fuel for commercial scale.

The engineering phase of the project took two years to complete, longer than Zeton’s usual timeline, due to the plant’s size, complexity, and the involvement of two external technology providers. This is a first-of-its kind technology that has been a collaborative effort across several partners. Despite supply chain disruptions from 2020 through 2023, the project remained continuously active from late 2018 until early 2023 when it finally shipped from Zeton’s Oakville, ON facility to site.

The SAF plant has two primary sections. The first section is Technip Energies’ Hummingbird® technology, which converts sustainable ethanol to ethylene via ethanol dehydration. While ethanol conversion to ethylene is not a novel process, Technip Energies’ Hummingbird® technology provides an efficient, low-cost process for dehydrating bioethanol to ethylene at a polymer grade specification. This technology allows for higher yields of ethanol to ethylene thus optimizing the economics of the biggest cost in running the plant: the cost of the bioethanol feed.

The second section leverages the LanzaJet Alcohol-to-Jet Process™ developed over a decade ago by LanzaTech and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, where ethylene from the first section is converted to jet fuel via an oligomerization process. In the oligomerization stage, ethylene is transformed into longer chain olefins with the ability to generate high yields of either jet fuel or diesel. Then a hydrogenation stage converts any remaining olefins to paraffins or iso-paraffins. Later in a fractionation stage, the product is separated to produce Synthetic Paraffinic Kerosene (SPK) jet blend-stock, which is a stable, paraffinic kerosene with superior features such as enhanced energy density, thermal stability, and freeze point compared to petroleum-derived jet fuel. The remaining fraction is Synthetic Paraffinic Diesel (SPD), which is also a high-quality renewable diesel with better properties than traditional diesel fuel.

This is Zeton’s largest plant to-date. The project required the expansion of Zeton’s Michigan drive facilities as two new indoor high bays were needed to fabricate the modules. And despite disruptions caused by COVID-19 supply chain issues the project was delivered on time and on budget. To mitigate the supply chain issues, the team tackled the longer lead, and most impacted, items by purchasing structural steel earlier than would normally have been the case, and by switching vendors for certain components. However, the project management approach to finding creative solutions to mitigate delays was really no different than a traditional Zeton project. It still relied heavily on effective teamwork and a positive can-do attitude between the client, consultants, vendors, contractors and Zeton staff.

Seeing the project come together and being delivered to the customer’s site was a rewarding experience for the whole Zeton team. We would like to thank LanzaTech and LanzaJet for trusting Zeton to design and build their first SAF commercial plant, and for the opportunity to show what we can accomplish.” – Ian Jessop, Senior Project Manager, Zeton Inc.

Building a first-of-its kind facility is no small task and working with collaborative partners like Zeton make it possible. This modular design and construction have come together well onsite in Georgia because of the expertise and coordination of all involved. Our LanzaJet Freedom Pines Fuels plant will significantly increase the production of sustainable aviation fuel produced in the United States and becomes the blueprint for how we can scale this industry through ATJ technology to decarbonize aviation.” – Louay Masarweh, VP of Operations, LanzaJet.

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